Problem Definition Applied

I’ll start this blog post with an update of my current location – Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, now nine hours into what seems to be a never-ending flight delay. I feel the need to update this page, yet am not sure of the best way in which to do so. I am in the process of tracing through my case studies, which involves a lot of reading and copious note taking. It truly is amazing how large you find bodies of literature to be once you begin looking. Through the research for my study I have found papers on very similar topics – renewable energy, energy security, energy economics. To be able to synthesize and then make a small furthering contribution to this literature is the task posed to us as researchers. When I get home I plan to post what I have written so far on the process of problem definition, the new angle on the study of energy conservation policy that makes my study original. Problem definition is the stage in policy making in which the source of a problem is attributed. How a problem is defined affects what solutions are proposed to remedy said problem. For example, the main problem behind my current flight delay could be the weather patterns that caused the airport to shut down for thirty minutes during a thunderstorm. Alternatively, the main problem could be that the airport packed the schedule of takeoffs so tightly that there was no room in the schedule to accommodate delayed flights after a weather disturbance. Or a logistical problem in which the airlines do not have an efficient system in place to reassign personnel if the original flight crew is not available. If the last suggestion was chosen, airline managers might suggest an organizational overhaul of staffing procedure as a solution to the current predicament. Alternatively, if the scheduling was decided as the problem, the proposed solution might instead be to pressure the airport to add more space in the schedule of takeoffs. In this way the problem definition stage of policymaking is vital. For now, I can only hope that I won’t be stuck here until this problem is figured out.